Who We Are

The Story

Late One Night, Jake Luhrs Sat Outside The Chicago House of Blues

Stories of addiction, depression, self-harm, heartache, war, fear, and hopelessness echoed in his mind. Every night, a fan would share a different story.

Although Jake was the well-recognized frontman of August Burns Red, he was at a loss for how to help. He wasn’t a mental health specialist and he screamed into a mic for a living. Not exactly the picture of expertise his fans needed.

Deep in thought and prayer, all Jake knew was that something had to change.

Divine Inspiration struck

And That’s When He Got His Answer

stronger-together
  • Build a place where people can come exactly as they are and explore healing
  • Provide relevant resources to an increasingly digital generation
  • Teach them to give back and help others grow stronger together

And thus

HeartSupport Was Born

Every year we help men and women brave their wounds, find purpose, and discover healing. Our goal is to create a legacy of life-transformation, freeing them from suicide, addiction, abuse, and mental health issues while empowering them with the realization they are loved unconditionally and supported by a community that believes in them.

Our Staff

Meet The Team That Helps Carry The Vision

  • Jake Luhrs
    Jake Luhrs Founder/Chairman of the Board

    At the age of 16 I had my first encounter with what I believe to be my first true “desire.” To be in a band and express my pain…

  • Dave King Executive Director

    When Dave discovered his community in New York had the highest level of suicide rates in the country, he knew something had to change…

  • Ben Sledge
    Ben Sledge Community Director

    Two combat tours overseas, a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and I was coming home to being newly divorced and thinking about giving up…

  • Nate Hilpert Finance Director

    I was struggling with a 20-hour-a-day video-game addiction and a consuming obsession with women through promiscuity and pornography….

  • John Williford Director of Development

    When John left the Marine Corps, he began attending college but soon found himself struggling through excessive drinking, partying, and abusing drugs.

  • Taylor Palmby Project Manager

    Diagnosed with depression and anxiety, only later leading to self-harm, Taylor found something bigger than herself to rely on and became a crisis text line counselor.

  • Michelle Saari Mental Health Advisor

    Michelle has spent the last 14 years working in mental health and inside the music industry. When she saw how much help was needed, she chose to jump into action…

  • Casey Keys Media Manager

    Through years of being caught in the wake of friends’ suicides and self harm, Casey found a heart for helping people through the darker issues in life.

  • Dan Media Manager

    Following his parent’s divorce and living in a home where domestic violence was present, Dan was consumed with using people for self-gain

  • Meagan Prins Staff Writer/Editor

    Meagan found herself battling struggling with purpose, faith, and self-worth. When friends turned to her for advice despite her own struggles, she found HeartSupport.

Our Board of Directors

Jake Luhrs

Jake Luhrs is the lead singer of Grammy-nominated metal band, August Burns Red and founder of HeartSupport. To date, he has toured hundreds of countries internationally and reached the Top 10 BillBoard charts multiple times. After seeing his fans struggling through addiction, depression, and suicide ideation, he prayed one evening for a way to help his fans and people around the world find hope and faith. The answer to that prayer was HeartSupport. In the short years Jake has been running HeartSupport, he has united bands and fans alike to carry a message of hope, healing, and restoration to a scene that is typically viewed as “dark” and “without hope.” His efforts thus far have led the organization to be nominated twice for philanthropic awards up against the likes of Doctors Without Borders and the American Cancer Society. In 2016 he won the Artist Philanthropic Award at the Alternative Press Music Awards in recognition for his work at HeartSupport. In addition to HeartSupport and his band, he also runs a clothing line company called “More Weight” that inspires others to reach and achieve their health goals through community support.

Marlis Oliver

Marlis Oliver is the Executive Director of K&N Management, a company that oversees Rudy’s BBQ and Mighty Fine Burgers in Austin, TX and is the recipient of the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. Awarded in 2010, K&N Management is just the second restaurant group to be recognized with the national honor. The award is a tremendous validation of how K&N Management compares to other companies across the country and establishes it as a role model business under the leadership of Marlis. The award is given to role model organizations that demonstrate exceptional performance in areas of management including leadership, strategic planning, customer service, workforce focus, process management, data analysis knowledge management, and results. To date, Marlis has worked 17 years for the company and guides HeartSupport through its annual strategic plan to reach its goals of becoming a world class non-profit.

Dr. Michelle Saari

Michelle Saari has been an advocate and mental health professional for the past 14 years. She holds both a Ph.D. and Masters degree in psychology and is a licensed mental health provider, and Board certified clinical supervisor in the state of Minnesota. She is also a Nationally Certified Counselor through the NBCC (National Board for Certified Counselors). As a long time fan of the heavy metal music industry, she was aware of the negativity and darkness that many in the scene face. Seeing Heartsupport as a unique blend of the music community, relationship building and hope for those struggling, she began volunteering on the ground at Vans Warped Tour. Michelle has helped the organization grow to reach even more people while encouraging others to live the healthiest lives they can and discover their best self. Outside of her professional service, she can be found exploring the outdoors, spending time exercising, and attending as many concerts and music festivals as her schedule allows.

Dave King

Dave is the Senior Associate Leader at the Journey Center in Horseheads, New York and the Executive Director of the iMatter Foundation; an educational based not-for-profit that reaches tens of thousands of kids annually with a message of hope and individual value. Dave helped assemble and construct the iMatter board and staff structure. He has a burning heart to reach the “fringe kids”, many of whom have never felt a fathers love. Dave is a devoted husband to Robin (33 years) and father of 2 daughters, Cassia and Hannah.

Recently retired, Dave is also the founder and owner of King Timberlands Consulting Group; a national company that represents timberland assets to institutional investors. Since 2013, year KTCG has brokers over $100 Million in transactions to add to the career total of over $400 Million. Dave also managed a 27-year college and high school basketball and football coaching career.

Dave’s a seasoned speaker who uses energy and humor to deliver advanced leadership concepts to the venues he engages. Among his passions is helping businesses and not for profit organizations build effective leadership teams.

dr. Justin Holcomb

Justin Holcomb is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He previously taught at the University of Virginia and Emory University.

Justin holds two masters degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Emory University.

A prominent advocate against sexual abuse, Justin’s book Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault has been a resource for many inside the community at HeartSupport. In addition to HeartSupport, Justin serves on the boards of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments).

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